“Mark O’Connor’s An Appalachian Christmas”
Mark O’Connor’s An Appalachian Christmas album (2011) reached the #1 ranking on Billboard’s Bluegrass Album charts. Hailed by critics from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times as a top 10 album of the holiday season, it has become a perennial classic Christmas recording.
“All Christmas music should be played so elegantly on violin" -- Boston Globe
"Heavenly" - Associated Press
“Elegant” – New York Times
O'Connor says, "Appalachia is the original melting pot of our country featuring more diverse styles of American music than just about anywhere. This theme makes for what is a trilogy of my "Appalachia" recordings now; Appalachia Waltz, Appalachian Journey and An Appalachian Christmas. My album features well known carols as well as several Appalachian-themed songs about a beloved hunting dog, passing a fiddle down through the generations, and offering a new version of Appalachia Waltz itself with classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, one of my most well-known pieces. A few of my favorite Christmas centerpieces for the album include Renee Fleming’s soprano embraced by a mountain orchestra and fiddle solo on Away In A Manger and Amazing Grace, the jazzy style of Jane Monheit with an all-acoustic string band on Winter Wonderland and The Christmas Song and terrific guest appearances by music legends James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss.”
About An Appalachian Christmas Concert Tour: Grammy-winning composer and fiddler Mark O’Connor has created several arrangements of Christmas classics and fashions a wondrous mixture of both instrumental and vocal music in bluegrass and other American music genres. Concertgoers are treated to fresh takes on traditional songs with a few original compositions included. His renditions are playful and joyous, but can be strikingly earnest too.
Mark O’Connor’s touring ensemble includes his wife Maggie O’Connor on fiddle and vocals as well as a variety of guest musicians on each tour.
Having toured An Appalachian Christmas nine consecutive years, O’Connor and his ensemble have a dynamic energy on stage that bring their individual expertise to holiday themes and classics in the most delightful and musically satisfying way!
But the reason we were all there was Mark O'Connor, in all his lyrical perfection. There is no more aching line in contemporary American music than the melody in his Appalachia Waltz, and the joy of his mandolin duet with his son in Macedonia, a song Mark wrote years ago, was pure delight.
O'Connor is a composer and arranger of the highest order, creating intriguing harmonies and rhythms in recognizable folk music. He elevates a music with humble beginnings to impeccable elegance, creating a whole different category. While the instrumentation is traditional in country music, his deft treatment of the songs and choice of performers brings out unexpected elements.
He's more than a performer; he's a suitor to the music, to the instruments, a passionate devotee of traditional forms and tools, and his adoration is evident in every note he writes and every chord he plays.
Mark O'Connor has brought his Appalachian Christmas to Portland for the last six years, and I hope he comes again next year, so everyone can hear his remarkable music.
by Meg Currell
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Mark O’Connor’s “An Appalachian Christmas” has been chosen by the Wall Street Journal yesterday in the top 6 Christmas albums of the season. The Boston Globe last week chose it as the 4th best holiday album, and the New York Post puts “An Appalachian Christmas” in the top 10 for the Christmas Season!
"Classical violinist and folk fiddler Mark O'Connor was born in Seattle but his heart is in the hills and hollows of Appalachia. On this largely self-produced CD...the album's best moments are the earthy "Cherry Tree Carol" and Mr. O'Connor's own "Appalachia Waltz." On "Sleigh Ride," he overdubs all 10 instruments." -Wall Street Journal
"ALL CHRISTMAS MUSIC SHOULD BE PLAYED SO ELEGANTLY ON VIOLIN" -BOSTON GLOBE
Mark’s album has climbed to the 15th best seller overall at Barnes and Noble this week (all genres)
Barnes and Noble
An Appalachian Christmas
# Sales Rank: 15
# Label: OMAC
Mark's album just broke the top 100 this week at Amazon and is at the topping the charts in a couple categories!
# Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
* #1 in Music > Country > Bluegrass > General
* #1 in Music > World Music > North America > Appalachian
* #7 in Music > Classical
With a violin that sings "like Renee Fleming's voice", 'An Appalachian Christmas' is "a Christmas card from Mark O'Connor," as described by Robin Young, the host of National Public Radio’s "Here and Now." It cannot be showcased any better than this! Hear the 9:00 min clip here on NPR. Link:
Mark O'Connor's 'An Appalachian Christmas' rings in the holiday season with heaps of praise the last two weeks. This week it hits #12 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and top 15 Billboard positions on 3 charts (Classical, Crossover, and Bluegrass). Mark will soon be heard on WNYC's Soundcheck, eTown, and Performance Today
(PT running O’Connor interview segments and Christmas selections throughout December).
Praise for 'An Appalachian Christmas':
"Elegant " - New York Times
“Heavenly” - Associated Press
"An absolute delight" – American Songwriter
"Mark O'Connor is a maestro of many genres... [He] and his fiddle are in top form throughout" – Metromix
“Lovely stuff from the fiddle virtuoso and his top-notch colleagues” – Birmingham News
"Will leave goose bumps. Maybe even tears or a brief quiver" – Ocala News